Imran Abbas shares some insight with our readers on life, his goals and what his true passion is.
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Grazia: What made you pursue a career in acting?
Imran: It was never my intention to become an actor. I am very much “the accidental actor”. I always wanted to be an architect, and that is the career path I chose to pursue, studying Architecture at the National College of Arts, in Lahore.
When I was nearing graduation, I started to receive lucrative offers from good production houses in Lahore and Karachi. Initially, I started off as a model. For a young and impressionable graduate, and somebody that is just starting their career, when you start to receive offers which are glitter dusted and the remuneration is good, it’s always very tempting and you give it a shot. All of this just spiralled from there and I have since never looked back, and quite honestly speaking I never found the time to look back to even contemplate turning to architecture. Acting was never a plan but here I am.
Grazia: If you were not an actor what you would you have pursued a career in architecture or were there any other plans?
Imran: I would certainly have been an Architect, and architecture still remains my first love. It’s one of the most amazing professions in my opinion, since it’s a wonderful blend of art and civil engineering, and thus allows me to express the artist residing in me. My father was a Civil Engineer, so I have always had an interest in engineering. Whenever I get the opportunity, even now, I try and design things for my friends or anybody who seeks my help; I enjoy being able to nurture this talent and passion of mine. So yes, if I weren’t an Actor, I most certainly would have been an Architect.
Grazia: You have featured in three successful Bollywood films, what, in your opinion, is the difference between doing Bollywood films and Pakistani films and dramas?
Imran: I have completed three Bollywood films, and there is a dramatic difference between Pakistan and India’s film industries. Pakistan’s dramas are well made but unfortunately when it comes to movies it is not quite the same story. We have no lack of talent; in fact, there is a whole pool of talent whether you’re talking actors or musicians, however, when it comes to story writing or screenplay writing I do feel there is a dearth of talented individuals – it’s vital we have good scriptwriters and good storywriters.
Movies made to date have been very linear and based on very basic storylines; Bollywood has definitely excelled. There’s a need for a talent pool with good and creative minds. My experience of Bollywood is that they are very professional, which is one of the contributing factors to their industry having gone far ahead, and something that we can learn from. We only have a handful of Directors who are doing great work, who understand the craft of film making. Since we are many years behind in the craft of moviemaking we should keep up with current methods and technologies, to better our chances of creating content of international standards too. Aside from that, I do feel our actors are very talented.
Grazia: Tell us about your family background?
Imran: I’m single and belong to a close-knit family, and am the youngest of my siblings. My father was a Civil Engineer, and my mother was a homemaker. Unfortunately, I have seen the demise of my sister a few years ago, followed by my father two years ago, and most recently my mother who I have lost only four months ago. The recent months and years have been extremely difficult for me, having shared a strong familial bond with those who I have lost, and it’s been hard moving through phases of acceptance and denial for me just reminiscing about the family I once had.
Grazia: If Imran Abbas could disappear for a week where would he go?
Imran: I’d escape to somewhere where there’s no internet, no Wi-Fi, no civilisation or technology, and where individuals won’t recognise me. It would be somewhere very close to nature, my roots and basics. It could be a cave where I can meditate and isolate, where I can have time to soul search and speak with myself. I think this is an idea I have always quite fancied, though I’m not sure which part of the world I’d have to travel to find this. As a youngster I always enjoyed having my hideouts in my house, and maybe that part of me still hasn’t escaped me.
Grazia: What is your passion besides acting?
Imran: I feel there isn’t a said passion as such now remaining, but there are few things that I aspire to do to make a difference, in the limited time I have, in order to help mankind. I enjoy spending time with senior citizens – just normal individuals from all backgrounds, to hear their stories and to learn from their pearls of wisdom. I’d like to build a senior citizens home for elderly, abandoned and destitute individuals, giving them all of the facilities of life, be it healthcare or otherwise, but also provide them with a warm and friendly environment that they can call home. I pray that this dream of mine reaches fruition.
Aside from this I love travelling and exploring new cultures, people and architecture. I love pets and nature, and also have a love for music.
Grazia: What are 3 things you can’t live without?
Imran: My sanity, my health and my belief (and my sense of humour). One of the biggest learnings in life is how unpredictable life itself is; its fragile, full of surprises and goodbyes. It’s important to have mental stability. Health
is something that’s extremely underrated and often taken for granted – when you don’t have health you don’t have anything. Having a good belief system is vital to help pull you through some of the toughest of times, enabling you to process and accept things better. Humour, again, is one of those things that gives me strength to get through difficult times too.
Grazia: What does the future hold for Imran Abbas?
Imran: The future is something that I’ve never really planned for or taken seriously in the past and now given my recent life experiences I feel even less compelled planning for the future, given the fragility of life. I think we need to focus more on the here and now and enjoy the current.
Granted more time on Earth, I feel I will be a saner person given what I have learned from life’s lessons to date, though I will continue to make some of the same mistakes, given the person I am. I don’t claim to be an angel, but I would definitely aspire to become more religiously practising. In the capacity of an actor, I don’t have any aspirations to go any further than I am career wise. I am grateful and have contentment in my heart for all that I have been bestowed with to date.
Grazia: What are your favourite holiday destinations and why?
Imran: You’ll have figured my love for architecture and arts, which makes Rome one of my golden destinations. I feel I can spend endless months of my life there and explore to my heart’s content as there’s so much to see. I am huge on nature and beauty too making Switzerland another favourite of mine.
Grazia: What is the best advice you could give to anyone who is thinking of entering the world of acting?
Imran: I would say work hard, but you cannot fight with destiny. The most you can do is give something your best shot, but ultimately what is written by fate you can neither exceed nor excel beyond. You should always have a Plan B – it is one of the only fields where you go on an upward career trajectory but at a certain point you start to come down, unlike other careers where seniority generally increases with time and experience. You need to be prepared for the decline, but aside from that one should not get disheartened at entry level.
Grazia: What do you love about acting the most?
Imran: The travel that comes with acting is one of my more favourite things. I love meeting new people, learning about new cultures and places. It’s through this role that I’ve managed to meet some extraordinarily talented people, like Sanjay Leela Bansali, who’s one of my best friends now, or Muzafar Ali Sahab, who I worked with on “Janisar” , who also made “Umrao Jaan” and legends like Lata angeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Madam Noorjehan, Medhi Hasan Khan sahab, Abida Parveen Ji to name a few– they are all individuals I have adored and loved and had dreamt of seeing, but I’ve had the opportunity of even spending time with them… I am ever so grateful for the opportunities this field has provided in terms of travel and opening up access to new people, places and experiences in life.
I am also grateful and humbled by the love and respect that I have been shown in this field, from every corner of the world; the feeling of being not just appreciated but being loved is indescribable. I would never have fathomed this degree of love.
Grazia: Which type of roles do you think you are most suited to?
Imran: I have always been pigeon-holed in romantic roles; the boy next door, the lover boy. I actually do enjoy these roles myself, but I do wish to do an action-thriller, or a romcom to try something new.
Grazia: Who do you consider to be your acting role model?
Imran: I have never considered anybody my role model in the field of acting. There have been many wonderful actors and many wonderful people. I have never looked up to any one of them as being perfect in their totality, in every true sense. That’s not to say that I am perfect myself, but I’ve just never seen anybody in the light of a role model for myself.